“It hadn’t occurred to him before”: Taking the first step towards sharing more at home
Rorfiyas, 25, is a soft-spoken woman from the Cham minority group who lives in a remote community in Cambodia. She used to shoulder the burden of running their household without complaint, spending all of her time fetching water, cooking, cleaning and caring for their fur-year-old daughter. Rorfiyas did this without complaint, uncertain whether she should have any other role in her family and community.
“Before I was always shy to speak to others or to offer my opinion. I heard about CARE’s work to help women have a voice and I wondered if it could help me to have confidence.” That is why she chose to join Personal Advancement and Career Enhancement (PACE) sessions provided by CARE to women in her community.
From the PACE training, Rorfiyas learned skills to help her speak to her husband and friends with confidence. In particular, she learned how inspiring women can benefit the whole family. Until the training showed Rorfiyas the many obligations thrust upon women and how these can prevent them from having time to develop their own enterprises, she had not questioned that she did all of the chores and looked after the children. But with her new outlook she ventured to try and change this.
“I was nervous about asking my husband to help with household work. I had always thought that this was a woman’s obligation. It had never occurred to me that he might help. I used the tools and language I had learned to explain this to him carefully and just asked him if he could help me collect water for cooking.
“He said he was fine to help me more! He asked me why I had not asked him before this. He had not realised how many responsibilities I had to keep our home running smoothly; it had not occurred to him before that managing a household takes a lot of time and effort.”Just the small act of speaking up was not the giant hurdle she had imagined, but opened the door to a marriage which looks very different to her life previously. Her husband now strives to support the work she does in the home with his own actions: when he returns from selling coconuts each day he makes sure he collects enough water not just for Rorfiyas to use in household tasks but also for the animals she now raises to earn her own income.
Rorfiyas has gained confidence to speak more with her neighbours. They are always interested to hear what she has been learning from the training so she is making an effort to share information with them.
“I feel so glad about this change,” she concludes. “Before I felt that no one would listen to me, but now I can speak up.”
Rorfiyas received life skills training as part of the PACE in the Community project, funded by Gap Inc. Personal Advancement & Career Enhancement training was provided alongside CARE’s VSLA community savings groups which are funded by the Australian Government